Time magazine’s June 11 article “Does God Want You to Be Thin?” celebrates Rick Warren’s faith-based weight loss initiative, with barely a mention of the conservative evangelical pastor’s homophobic teachings. While the “Daniel Plan” and Rick Warren’s incredible shrinking waistline receive five pages of gushing praise, Time glosses over the fact that this “inclusive” plan–open to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, too–mixes getting-in-shape advice with condemnations of sexuality that deviates from Warren’s expectations of normative heterosexuality and sexual identity.
Even after admitting the existence of anti-LGBT content in the Daniel Plan, the article credits Warren for not “belaboring” the issue of same-sex marriage, and continues to downplay the issue, stating, “it would be more than a little disingenuous for outsiders to profess themselves shocked, shocked that an evangelical church … has a rule or two about human sexuality.” The Time puff piece minimizes the harmful effects of such views on the LGBT community and political discourse, while offering an offensively simplistic view of the uniformity of evangelical beliefs.
Those familiar with Warren’s relationship with Martin Ssempa, who advocated imprisonment for gay individuals and supported Uganda’s 2009 Anti-Homosexuality “Kill the Gays” Bill, might be surprised to hear that the pastor doesn’t belabor the issue. It took months of negative publicity for Warren to distance himself from Ssempa, and even more months passed before he denounced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Now Warren’s PR machine appears to be running to rescue his badly damaged imaged. [Political Research Associates’ 2009 “Globalizing the Culture Wars” report exposed Warren’s work in Africa–our follow-up investigation details other activities of the U.S. Christian Right on the continent.]
This isn’t the first instance of Time magazine glossing over Warren’s discriminatory behavior and teachings. In an August 2008 cover story on Rick Warren, Time characterized him as the “U.S.’s most influential and highest-profile churchman,” claiming that his approach favors a “shift away from ‘sin issues’–like abortion and gay marriage.” The article applauded the pastor’s activism on self-described “uniting” issues, such as human rights–with no whisper of the role that Warren’s homophobic stance itself plays in violating those rights.